Online vs. Offline Advertising

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Today's marketers have a host of advertising choices available to them, in both online and offline channels. In this lesson, we'll explore these two avenues of advertising and some of the benefits of each.

Picking the Right Advertising Channel

Andrea needs to do some advertising for her small organic market in Wilmington, but she is confused by the wide array of choices at her disposal. Does she focus on her website and social media channels, or is she better off running ads in the newspaper and on her local radio station?

The advertising choices for business owners and marketers have never been more versatile than they are in today's market. There are options ranging from handing out brochures inside a local store or market to delivering digital ads that can reach consumers on the other side of the world. The two categories of choices available to business owners like Andrea revolve around the online and offline worlds of advertising.

In this lesson, we'll look at a primer on each so that we can help Andrea make the best choice to reach her audience.

What Is Online Advertising?

Online advertising encompasses all of the digital and internet-based channels that help advertisers reach a wide audience with their messaging. These channels include:

  • Websites
  • Social media
  • Mobile ads
  • Search engine marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Display ads
  • Email

The key component of online advertising is that it makes use of technology (and particularly the internet) as a vehicle for creating and delivering advertisements.

Online advertising makes use of digital resources to deliver advertisements.
online, digital, advertising, internet, marketing

Online advertising has opened up a world of possibilities for those trying to advertise, particularly to consumers in groups that are very active in searching the internet, reading social media and checking out various websites. You can spot an online ad when you're watching a video, playing a game on your smartphone or searching for something on Google.

The advantages of internet-based advertising for business owners are numerous. First, it is a much cheaper option than more traditional advertising channels. A business can create an online ad on social media for $15 or $20 and reach a few hundred or thousand people. In fact, pay-per-click ads, which put your advertisement at the top of relevant search engine results, only charge an advertiser when the ad is clicked.

Online advertising also delivers enormous measurability through analytical tools that can tell you everything from how many people open your email ad to how many people purchase something based on an offer inside that email. And a third advantage of online advertising is increased targeting; that is, being able to pick specific consumers you want to reach with your messaging.

What Is Offline Advertising?

Offline advertising, sometimes referred to as ''traditional advertising,'' relies on the following channels to get marketing messages out to a target audience:

  • Television
  • Print (magazines or newspapers)
  • Radio
  • Billboards
  • Marketing collateral (brochures and flyers)
  • Direct mail

Some people believe offline advertising has been written off thanks in part to the advances in technology that brought us online advertising, but that is simply not the case. Brands and businesses the world over are still running ads in daily newspapers. We still pass billboards as we drive to and from work. And the market for television ads has never been higher (just ask advertisers during the Super Bowl).

Offline advertising employs more traditional methods like these billboards in Times Square.
offline, advertising, billboards, marketing

Offline advertising targets consumers through channels that are considered more traditional, such as newspaper ads for local restaurants, radio spots purchased by car dealerships, and direct mail, like mailing coupons and flyers to consumers' homes.

There are definite advantages to implementing offline advertising as a promotional tool. The most obvious is that you can reach consumers who do not have access to the internet. It may seem hard to believe, but many people in other countries, as well as some older and lower income consumers either don't have home internet access or just don't want to use the internet to acquire necessary information.

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